[Editor’s Note: “Former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) are battling rates of suicide higher than the general population” according to a report released in June 2017. That doesn’t come as a surprise.]
by Felicity Hingston
Phil Essam Casey wants a Royal Commission into the Veteran Suicide Rate in Australia. This is the petition he put up on Change.org:
“In 2017 , 80 plus Australian Veterans have lost their lives to suicide. This is a National Tragedy and something needs to be done about it. Earlier this year, the Australian Government gave DVA a bucket of money to help in this area. Doesn’t seem to be working… I call on the Australian Government to establish a Royal Commission with wide terms of reference… ” [59,853 have signed so far.]
I have a healthy respect for veterans –- e.g., earlier generation members of my family; my Father-in-law (WWII veteran who battled PTSD, yet continued to fight in support of widows and families), and my ex-students. So I mean absolutely no disrespect! But, before I sign my support, I HAVE SOME DOUBTS TO EXPRESS:
How about we look at WHY we are fighting and WHERE. I am convinced many of the young veterans can’t face the reality that it is NOT a fair, justified fight. Add to that, the lack of understanding on return home, the lack of respect, the in-fighting as we battle with multiculturalism here at home, the politics. Even the threat to Anzac Day is gaining momentum.
Veterans from WWI and WWII had serious issues upon their return, yet they could wholeheartedly believe they were defending our country and way of life — thanks to limited media. They had the opportunity to meet with their ‘old digger mates’ without judgement. Plus they were, to a great extent, hailed as heroes.
Those who fought in Vietnam copped it much more harshly, even being shamed by the 60s peace-lovers.
But the Middle East is a completely different ballgame. Sure, we still have ‘controlled media’, but these young people aren’t techno-illiterate. Their exposure to the negative media means they know what’s going on. Perhaps this is NOT what they signed up for!
Even a senseless moron would find it difficult to destroy villages (mothers & children)! Try reading how (some of) the Allied bomber pilots felt fire-bombing Germany.
Secondly, expense and efficacy.
Whilst I support the idea, I don’t know that a Royal Commission with ‘wide terms or reference’ is the answer. Money thrown at numerous organisations hasn’t done much, and they haven’t worked together. What about someone pull all these organisations together, establish WHY so many ‘give up’ (and what aren’t we doing for them?) — and then address the REAL issues!
By the time a royal commission is organised, not only will there be no money left, but likely hundreds more veterans will be defeated.
Further to expense: How about we get a breakdown of defence spending?
There’s the submarine contract with a company (DCNS) — which already let us down; fighter jets that are obsolete before they’re built; underground bases we (the taxpayers) fund but aren’t allowed to know anything about. And what about the amazing technology being withheld from us?
I also can’t help but wonder about the defence funds going towards gender change. No other ‘business’ covers this individual ‘wish for change’ so why the ADF?
Thirdly, Who calls the shots?
When will we be our own masters? USA is a formidable big brother, but senseless adulation is certainly not in our interests as we become ever more a part of Asia/Pacific!
So, rather than petition for a long, time-and-money-wasting Royal Commission, how about we address the above issues?